Sagaing rests on the west bank of the mighty Irrawaddy about 20 km from Mandalay, across from ancient Inwa, now called Ava. The holy hills of Sagaing are dotted by some 600 monasteries, nunneries and pagodas. Views atop Sagaing over temple tops and the river below can be spectacular in the right light. Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, built in 1312 is probably the most well known, and also provides a great vantage point.
Not to be missed is the stupendous stupa of Kaunghmudaw Pagoda built by King Thalun and completed in 1648. The Sri Lanka style paya was created as part of the commemoration of Inwa as a Shan capitol. The temple is most revered for being one of those places ‘said’ to contain relics from the Buddha, namely part of a tooth and an emerald bowl. At the base of the pagoda is a hollowed out space where sits a Buddha image crafted from white marble. Ever wonder how many bricks it takes to build such a large structure? We didn’t think so, but here is a little trivia for you: 10, 126, 552.